Councilor Dickerson continues push for investigationQuestions raised about severance package for resigning city employee
Rockland — In an open email sent to local press Nov. 2, Rockland City Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson put pressure on Mayor Brian Harden to investigate why Rockland Community Development Director Audrey Lovering of Standish signed a special resignation agreement with the city Oct. 10, entitling her to four months' salary in return for her promise not to bring claims against the city.
"Nine days ago, I sent you a request for an investigation into how the city manager had handled the recent personnel matter," Dickerson wrote. "We were informed by City Attorney Kevin Beal that it would be proper for the council to conduct such an investigation.
"I have heard no news from you, but have heard from others in the community that you were on Joe Steinberger's radio show, and a resident called to ask you about this matter, and why nothing seemed to be happening," Dickerson continued. "You told this resident, Adele Faber, that the type of request that I had made was a different request. This statement of yours confused the community, and now I am being asked what, particularly, is so hard to understand about my request. We have also seen, this week, an editorial in The Courier-Gazette calling for transparency in government, and if the taxpayers of Rockland are to pay over $20,000 plus health insurance to settle with an employee, then the people of the city of Rockland have a right to understand how their city manager conducted this situation, and whether it was conducted properly, or whether there could have been other, less drastic, options sought.
"I have copied the local press corps, as you can see, and it is incumbent upon you to act in a timely manner to such a request when it is made, even if it is to simply acknowledge receipt of the request.
"If my request was not clear to you, as you have indicated from your statements on the radio program, then certainly I would be happy to discuss."
City Manager James Smith said Oct. 19, that he cannot talk about the issue because it is a personnel matter. He said the last day Lovering worked at city hall was Oct. 1.
Lovering agreed to resign effective Oct. 10. As part of the deal, the city agrees to pay her a lump sum of $21,667 to resolve a dispute, which is not elaborated on in the agreement document provided by the city. The city also agrees to pay Lovering's attorneys Kelly and Collins $2,000 in fees and expenses.
As part of the agreement Lovering agreed not to say anything bad about the city or city employees. For its part, the city agrees to state only her dates of employment, her salary, title and that she resigned should it be contacted for a reference from another employer.
The agreement was signed by Lovering Oct. 10 and Smith Oct. 11.
Lovering had taken over the position in the summer of 2011, replacing former Community Development Director Rodney Lynch.
Courier Publications News Editor Dan Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.